Grocery and drug stores lock frequently used products to decrease crime and theft

Flickr Orly Orlyson

Organized retail crime is on the rise as several crime gangs sell common, frequently used products online on major retail sites and make millions of dollars. Brick and mortar grocery and drug stores have started keeping toothpaste, deodorants, candy, detergent and other products that are used everyday, under lock and key as they face losses of millions of dollars due to theft of such items. However businesses that manufacture lock cases and other anti-theft devices and sell them to huge brick and mortar retailers are seeing a boom a business.

According to a report in CNN Business, Walgreens and Rite Aid said that they have closed stores as well as put some commonly used items under lock and key, to combat organized shoplifting. Many drug stores have kept commonly used, everyday items under lock and key as they are targeted by groups, who steal these items and easily resell them on online.

Some of the items that are frequently shoplifted in grocery and drug stores in America include the following
cigarettes
health products
over the counter medications
teeth whitening strips
contraceptives
beauty products
deodorants
toothpaste
candy
detergent
soap
razors
socks
pistachios
aluminum foil and more.

Although both customers and giant retailers are troubled by the process of keeping such commonly used, everyday items under lock and key, the stores are seeing huge annual losses in terms of millions of dollars.

Stores are using different strategies including allowing customers to take only one item at a time. Locking items is generally a last resort as it creates inconvenience for both the customer and the store as workers have to be deployed to open the locked cases for the customers to gain access. They are also using AI to help customers navigate locked items while measuring withdrawals to flag suspicious behavior.

According to a report in Forbes, Walmart has tested a new type of locked case that any employee can open using a smartphone. However, a spokesperson of the big box retailer has not confirmed the news but said, “We take the protection of our assets seriously.”

Online retailers such as Amazon allow third party retailers to sell goods on their platform. Congress is hoping to pass a bipartisan bill that will require online marketplaces to verify state-issued IDs that millions of high-volume third party sellers would require, when they sell items on such online marketplaces. Amazon said that it works with law enforcement to prevent such bad actors on its platform.

President Joe Biden has asked Congress to impose liability on online marketplaces who continue to sell stolen goods from third party sellers. Stores are also working on more robust and faster methods to prevent theft and shoplifting.


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